Pentacost in Lourdes is a huge mass with thousands of people in the underground basilica. Then Kaffeetrinken with the group hosted by the organisation that organised the pilgrimage, followed by a quiet afternoon.
We went with Pádraig to the hotel we’re staying in to show it to him again, to relax a little and to write those all-important postcards.
There’re postcards you can buy here I had completely forgotten about. Like the 3-dimensional ones, or the even more advanced ones where the 3-D picture changes when you move them slightly from the let to the right.
There are many unusual aspects of Lourdes. There are things, people, and events you wouldn’t find anywhere else. There is an atmosphere here that sets off emotions that can move you into any direction and over which you have very little control.
One aspect of Lourdes that made me think a lot is that the “sick” are very much ‘centre stage’. It’s impossible to find the right words to describe what is going on. Like what happened when we were waiting for the huge mass to start this morning. We were ridiculously early, as Germans are, to avoid any panic and to get into a good location, close to the altar and with a good view, especially for the people in wheelchairs. While we were waiting, several people came up and took pictures and videos of us. Some came up to hold Pádraig’s hand. There was a sense of ‘look at the terrible fate these people have to suffer’, and of taking pictures and videos to show this ‘terrible suffering’ to friends and family at home. Where in the world would you find so many really sick people in the one place?
I know they mean well.
But I very much feel uncomfortable as the one for whom people have to feel pity. I also feel the same in relation to Pádraig. Yes, Pádraig’s ‘story’ could make anybody cry just like that. I could (and deep down do) cry all the time if I looked back and pitted him and his ‘lost’ life.
But I don’t, I don’t want to, and I won’t. Because this would most definitely be the end.
I am not the one, and Pádraig is not the one, people look at and feel great themselves because they themselves are healthy and they themselves have a family that is healthy, and because they can feel pity for someone who is trying to live a life, trying hard like no other.
This is not the end. This is the beginning. This is not about pity and lost opportunities and a lost life. This is about hope, about getting up again after a fall, about being proud, about not giving up and not giving in, about help and support and shared energy and love when it is needed most.
It’s about live and living. It’s about inclusion. It’s about ability. It’s about dignity and respect. It’s about defying boundaries and established ‘wisdoms’. It’s about: look at Pádraig and the brilliant things he can do!
It’s about Dreamboaters. It’s about making the world a better place.
(You have to start somewhere:)